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Interview with

Alex Møklebust (vocals), Kim Ljung (bass, vocals), Lorry Kristiansen (keyboards) and Dan Heide (guitar) of Zeromancer

The last release of 'Sinners International' triggered more creative powers within the Norwegian formation; how else could you explain the release of the upcoming album 'The Death of Romance' only a good year after the last one? Anyway, it was time to talk, and we could get a lot of information for you about the new record. Enjoy!

Reflections of Darkness (RoD): Since when have you been working on ‘The Death of Romance’ already? I mean, it’s hardly a year since ‘Sinners International’ came out.
Alex Møklebust (Alex): The making of ‘Sinners International’ was such an inspiring process and we wanted to hold on to that vibe. We produced, recorded and mixed the album ourselves and we found the perfect way to work, both technically and creatively. We continued and upgraded the workflow from ‘Sinners’ and the final result is fantastic. Better sounding, exiting, intense and a very personal album. We started working on new material on the “Sinners International tour”. After the tour, Kim spent 3 months putting all the ideas into a demo. Except for the recording and mixing of the ‘Sounds like love’ EP and touring, we’ve worked on ‘The Death of Romance’… nonstop from May 2009 until January 2010. Some months got pretty intense….but all in a good way
Dan Heide (Dan): Yeah, after the “Sinners International tour” which was very successful we decided to continue with the productive and inspiring work and start right away the process of making ‘The Death of Romance’. It was all extremely motivating from day one.

RoD: Has the thematic frame of the new album already been set before you started producing it out?
Kim Ljung (Kim): I always start writing songs by having the title. That gives me the whole picture in a very weird way. The same goes for when we decide to do an album. Then I have the title ready and some sort a vision what it will be like in the end. That was the process with ‘The Death of Romance’ as well. And this time it was very special since the end product is pretty much what I had in mind when the title came up right before we released ‘Sinners International’.

RoD: The title ‘The Death of Romance’ implies it’s inspired by personal, hurting events, is that correct?
Lorry Kristiansen (Lorry): The romantic, beautiful picture you have as a child, doesn’t appear to be all true. Growing up made me realize that. And I am not saying this is what Kim meant when he came up with the title, but I interpret titles and lyrics into something I can relate to in my life. And ‘The Death of Romance’ is to me a reference to the sudden discovery, or disappointment of what life is really about.
Kim: Well yes and no. I usually don’t write lyrics just to portrait my own emotions or feelings. There are personal events in there of course. But I often mix in words and letters I get from our own fans. I try to take my place inside their often complicated and wretched situation. That gives it a certain depth and in a way connects the band in a very private way with our devotees. I rarely discuss with the others the content of the material. Since Alex is singing the stuff I compose, he has to make up his own ideas what he’s presenting. It would feel very strange kind of putting my personal meanings into his head. I believe music is all about exchanging yourself as a person.

RoD: Who came up with the idea to the cover art of the new record and in which way does it relate to the title and / or the music?
Kim: I usually have the ideas in the very beginning. It has been like that for a long time now. I think the others take it more or less for granted. However I feel fine by this since I guess the creativity inside of me is some kind of a gift. I need to get everything out of my head. If I’d choose to suppress the flow I’m pretty certain I’d go insane. Maybe this is the reason for my chronic migraines. It might be. It has to be related somehow. However the guys have a great filter and we never decide anything unless we all agree. I guess my strength is that I’m not afraid of throwing ideas out. They might sound stupid in the first place, but I don’t really care since this might trigger the others to throw in their 5 cents. And then we come up with the final result as a band. With ‘The Death of Romance’ I had some initial ideas and we were discussing it back and forth when we got the photographer into the process. He has a brilliant dark mind and together we came up with the perfect look for the album. I feel the girl on the cover lying on the sofa in a burnt out environment is a clever choice. She might be dead by the poison in chalice on the ground. We leave it up the listener to decide.

RoD: Who’s created the artwork ‘The Death of Romance’?
Kim: The girl who did the artwork is a friend and an excellent and top notch graphic designer. She has been a close companion of the band for several years now. I believe she did a fabulous job.
Alex: The photographer Bjørn Opshal, who is credited for all shots here, is a friend of ours. He owes us for life. A live picture he took of me back in 1993 was the reason he started as a photographer. It was also the first picture he sold to a magazine. As a 10th photo shoot anniversary we decided to do something massive: 3 firemen, 1 clothes designer, 4 people on styling, 2 scenographers, 3 guys rigging and so on. Almost 30 persons involved in that shoot. Oh and btw… it’s actually outdoors.

RoD: Are the tracks following some kind of time line, that is, is it a continuous story they tell?
Alex: When you make this kind of self dedicated record it becomes more personal than you want it too. For me it was important be in the same state of mind throughout the whole process, to be able to push the album in the right direction.
Kim: They all found their perfect spot on the album. There are actually very few things on the album that is accidental. Dynamics are extremely important for us. I feel the way the album is put together from start to finish makes a lot of sense.

RoD: Why do you think is it that newly married are giving up on romance so early these days. Isn’t it important enough anymore? I personally think that’s frightening.
Lorry: I agree with you. I find it frightening as well. But I think it has to do with the all so restless impersonal world we are living in. We are all closer to each other through internet and other devices, but still I find people to be even more isolated. The focus has changed. And the rush of the world is taking its prisoners.
Kim: We are definitely living in a stressful environment these days. There are simply just too much to take in. I’m getting married this summer and I have serious plans of not fucking up. My parents have been excellent examples of how to cope and stay close.

RoD: Who are the ‘Industrypeople’ that don’t feel anything? Are you using it as a description for our modern people or is it touching on a deeper, personal level?
Lorry: Continuing the thought from the previous Q&A, I mean the ‘Industrypeople’ could be everyone. The isolation, the loss of emotion, the lack of identity is influencing everyone, and the desire for unity is stronger than ever. This is again my personal interpretation.
Kim: I rarely explain my lyrics in detail. I believe it’s better that way since everyone has their own opinions anyway. Plus it’s a thing between me and Alex that we have determined it to be this way between us, him being the singer performing, me the guy writing the words coming out of his mouth. But extracting this from the official press release makes some sense I guess: “‘We are the ‘Industrypeople’ they keep chanting in the opening track. Is this their sarcastic poke to the very industry they are a part of? Or is it a sincere anthem to their industrial heritage? The guess is, you figure it yourself."

RoD: On the title track, it’s like a flow of non-destructive emotions comes together in a wave of melancholy but there seems to be hope as well, or are my senses just fooling me here?
Alex: ‘The Death of Romance’ was the most difficult song to mix. I wanted it to have a huge epic feel and the vibe that the songs deserve. It was one of the first songs I mixed, but I had to put it away. It was a struggle, but Kim and Lorry had some smart input during the process and made me approach the song a little different. It all went really smooth in the end.
Dan: I think you’re right here, although it’s melancholy and dark, I also think it’s leaving the listener with a sense of wellbeing and hope. When we worked on the guitar lines to the chorus I always felt it was something uplifting about it.

RoD: Are you going to include that song in your live set? Would love to hear that!
Alex: We will try out all the new songs at the rehearsals. Rearrange and do some changes, then pick out the ones that work best in the live set. We’ll probably change the set list a little every day. We want to try out all the new songs during the tour.
Dan: Nothing is for certain yet, but we have tested it in our rehearsing studio and I think it will be a GREAT song to perform live.

RoD: Why did you choose ‘The Pygmalion Effect’ to be the title of the following song? I read it’s also called “The Rosenthal Effect” and refers to the effect that the greater the expectation is that’s placed upon certain people, the better they’ll perform eventually. How does that relate to the song’s content?
Kim: Again I’m not giving away much here. This track is one of my absolute faves on the album. The depth, the atmosphere, the monotonous bass and the offbeat guitar riff. A few hints to make you even more dizzy and confused is the Marilyn Monroe sample, the sounds of the ancient arcade game, Sinistar, and the distorted sound of a guy who gets his parachute caught in the airplane he’s jumping from.

RoD: ‘Mint’, not only with Alex’s splendid vocal delivery but also with its entire atmospheric build, makes it a special track on the album. On a subconscious level it even feels entirely different somehow. Can you second that and what’s the title referring to?
Alex:Mint’ is the only track on the album without Mr. Ronthi playing the drums. We wanted a different sounding track and 70-80% of the recording is from the demo stage. The track is mixed by John Fryer. John visited Room 13 studio and said he wanted to mix a track. ‘Mint’ was the perfect choice, cause we wanted something different. It was supposed to be the quiet track, but the final result is a little harder than the original demo. John beefed it up a little, but made the track a little more exiting.
Kim: I really think Alex is doing his best vocal performance ever. He started off this song by writing the basics. Then I wrote the vocal parts and lyrics and it was strange ‘cause it was exactly what Alex was feeling at the time. The perfect track at the perfect time! I think that is mainly the reason for why it’s sticks out.

RoD: Are you already looking forward touring again?
Alex: Hell yeah! We all want to tour as much as possible. Performing live keeps us alive! Playing for an audience is what it’s all about. Our expectations are sky high for the upcoming tour as usual. Starting rehearsals this week and I’m fucking exited!
Dan: Yes, being on the road with your friends, play concerts, meet our fans, and have a great time. Can you wish for more?
Kim: Everyone watching ZMR perform understands that this means everything to us. Something ignites when we get on stage together. The feeling waling off stage after a magic show is unbeatable.

RoD: Will there be anything special you’ve planned for the upcoming performances?
Alex: We just started rehearsing and still working on the live show. I guess the best answer is to see the show :)
Kim: Well… we are planning to give Lorry some more space on stage. There are a couple of the new songs that suits having some extra toms. Having him back there backing up Noralf will turn out really cool. Looks like our new backdrop also going to be killer.

RoD: If there’s anything, you’d like to add this is the place?
Alex: Looking forward to see you all on tour!!!!!!!

ZEROMANCER will be on tour on the following dates:
05.03.2010 N - Bergen / Hulen
06.03.2010 N - Stavanger / Folken
12.03.2010 N - Trondheim / Blaest
13.03.2010 N - Oslo / Rockefeller
19.03.2010 D - Bochum / Ruhrcongress Hallen (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
20.03.2010 D - Erfurt / Thüringenhalle (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
27.03.2010 D - Gießen / Hessenhallen (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
01.04.2010 D - Munich / Zenith (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
03.04.2010 D - Berlin            / Columbiahalle (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
04.04.2010 D - Dresden / Alter Schlachthof (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
05.04.2010 D - Dresden / Alter Schlachthof (SUPPORT UNHEILIG
06.04.2010 B - Antwerp / Trix Club
09.04.2010 D - Magdeburg / AMO (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
10.04.2010 D - Hamburg / Docks (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
11.04.2010 D - Hamburg / Docks (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
16.04.2010 D - Leipzig / AGRA (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
17.04.2010 D - Cologne / Palladium (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
23.04.2010 N - Tonsberg / Haugarock
30.04.2010 N - Drammen / Union Scene
07.05.2010 D - Bielefeld / Ringlokschuppen (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
21.-24.05.2010 D - Leipzig / WAVE GOTHIC TREFFEN 2010
22.05.2010 D - Stuttgart / Liederhalle (SUPPORT UNHEILIG)
12.06.2009 D - Gelsenkirchen / Amphitheater (BLACKFIELD FESTIVAL 2010
15.07.2010 N - Tonsberg / Slottsfjellfestival
More dates will be announced shortly.

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